Just as a healthy lawn creates a welcoming atmosphere for businesses and homes, an unhealthy lawn creates a bad first impression. New England falls in USDA hardiness zones 3 through 7, with mild summers and cold winters. Cool-weather grasses thrive under these conditions and are recommended for this area. A healthy lawn begins as you prepare the area for planting. The care and time you take to establish a lawn will pay off for years to come.
Prepare the soil for your grass. Loosen the soil to a depth of at least 6 inches with a shovel. Make sure all weeds are removed from the area. Although grass tends to have a relatively shallow root system, good drainage is essential for a healthy lawn. Spread 2 to 3 inches of organic matter such as compost over the area you intend for a lawn. Mix well and smooth with a rake, achieving a level planting surface for your lawn. The compost will add nutrients to the soil as well as improve drainage. Observe how much sun your site receives to better select a grass that thrives in your growing conditions.
Plant your grass in late summer or early fall. Although your lawn may go dormant in the winter, this will give it time to establish a good root system first. Spring plantings are also preferable to early or midsummer planting of lawns. Cool-season grasses such as fescue and bluegrass thrive in New England’s mild climate.
Fertilize your lawn after planting to encourage good root formation. Use a fertilizer recommended for lawns. This will have a higher nitrogen content than general purpose fertilizer for gardens. Feed your lawn again, at a rate of 8 oz. to 1 lb. of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet, once the grass blades reach 2 inches high.
Water your lawn after planting and frequently while the grass seeds are germinating, keeping the soil moist, but not wet. Continue to water when the first inch of soil is dry after germination.
Mow your lawn once the grass blades reach 2-1/2 to 3 inches tall. Keeping your lawn at this height reduces the amount of water your lawn requires and increases the health of your lawn. Grass blades get their energy from photosynthesis. Reducing the amount of blade area weakens the plant.
Check for weeds that may infiltrate your lawn. A healthy, well-maintained lawn is the best way to prevent the growth of weeds. Hand-remove any weeds or use a herbicide specifically designed for lawns.
Inspect your lawn for any dead patches. This could indicate insect infestation. In New England insects such as Japanese beetles lay their eggs in July or August. Once these grubs hatch, they will begin damaging your lawn. Apply insecticides such as imidacloprid following package instructions.